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County: violators of private gathering rules could face fines

Photos by Cameron Hurst State and local officials are encouraging residents to take advantage of free COVID-19 testing opportunities available in Mayville and next week in Jamestown and Dunkirk.

MAYVILLE — New York state continues to show one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 infection across the country thanks to individuals and communities that follow the New York Forward reopening rules and keep one another safe.

Actions such as wearing face coverings, social distancing, washing hands frequently, keeping family and social circles very small, reducing unnecessary travel, and continuing to follow the reopening guidance under New York Forward all play critical roles in keeping people safe and healthy.

Unfortunately, social gatherings and lack of compliance with state rules continue to drive community spread of COVID-19 in Chautauqua County. In response, the Chautauqua County Board of Health will move forward with enhanced enforcement of the New York Forward reopening rules.

Individuals who promote social gatherings that do not comply with the Governor’s orders, or venue owners, operators, or managers who host such gatherings, could be subject to fines of up to $15,000. Businesses that fail to adhere to the New York Forward guidelines applicable to their business and activities may be subject to fines of up to $2,000 per day. Business owners and operators should consult the New York Forward Reopening Guidelines which can be found at https://forward.ny.gov/ for guidance on compliance and for developing a NY Forward Safety Plan. Business owners and operators play critical roles in preventing the spread of disease and need to continue to follow state guidance and implement their safety plans.

“Community spread of COVID-19 will only be controlled if each person takes personal responsibility for their health and that of those around them,” said Christine Schuyler, County Public Health Director. “Health Department staff are conducting inspections and investigating complaints; violations will go to the Board of Health for action against individuals and businesses. It is up to the businesses to make sure their staff and customers comply in order to keep all of their staff and customers safe.”

Schuyler added, “The Health Department and County Sheriff’s Office have been inundated with COVID-19 complaints and every effort is being made to investigate and resolve each of them. We are hopeful that issuing fines for violations will reinforce the importance of following the state’s rules, help improve compliance and ultimately, reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. At the same time, we remain so grateful to the large majority of our citizens who are carefully staying in compliance to enhance the safety of us all.”

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